We search the cultural level again to find something that resembles the modern and the natural order. This time we examine how our old ancestors played, what they played, what their losses lost, and how these early degrees formed the basis for today’s games. We have already covered this topic, although most of the articles concerned events of the late 20th and early 19th centuries.
In the rear view, we are bound backwards by past eras and strict eons, bypassing enlightened ages and the rebirth of classic pagan thought, to finally arrive at the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, where Pius men tried to build a divine tower and to do so bring about the overthrow of man, which orthodoxy dictates that we are going through.
Babylon is an abbreviation for excess and covers four of the seven deadly sins – watch out for Spacey. Ur is the most famous of Babylon’s games, not to be confused with the Ur’s Great Ziggurat of the same name outside of modern Baghdad, which Maniacs have a reputation for hosting an ancient star gate through which the ancients traveled to meet their cosmic creators. Ur was a royal game taught to the Babylonians by Marduk, the dark Old Testament god. His anger was the hammer of archaic vengeance and inspiration for a number of future occult arts.
Ur is a two-player strategy game from the early third millennium BC. BC, sometimes referred to as the “game of twenty places”. This was also what my school thugs played to dispel their lunch boredom by gathering twenty geeks in one place to do a famous spanking game. Like any of today’s hyper hyped computer games, Ur quickly became popular and spread in the Middle East like the Turin shroud before it became so widespread that people of all social classes could participate. Along with Babylon’s famous demonic legend, the game gained an almost mystical meaning. It has been rumored that his tokens, like tarot cards, herald prophecies for the future.
The game, which remained popular in the region until late antiquity around the 5th century AD, later developed into backgammon or similar variants, where it was used by the majority except the existing Jewish population of Kochi in India practiced into the 1950s, forgotten Israeli emigration began.
In our modern world of fleeting fame, it is a testament to the playability of Ur that it has survived unhindered, unchanged and largely unplayable for the modern public for almost 4,000 years. Ur is unlikely to be integrated into your favorite rooms unless there is a tremendous cultural renaissance with a renewed focus on Eastern interest, but you know that the sidebars of the most disgusting porn sites on the Internet have their origins in the old Have Babylon. There is no doubt that the Babylonians were not uncommon as a king game for a bet, although it is also believed that the spiritual aspect that players attach to the game may have prevented Pius from betting on fate. A special archaeological discovery confirmed theories of gambling in Ur, where 21 white balls next to a set were discovered as stakes.
Render unto Caesar
We have already talked about Rome’s gambling laws. To summarize briefly: Prohibition laws have been ratified but not strictly adhered to, especially for frontline legionnaires who regularly gamble outside the jurisdiction of the imperial decree. Outside of the war-related downtime, the Romans played and celebrated Saturnalia, a 24-hour period in which society changed. Emperors served slaves, riders fled, and gambling was allowed on a grand scale. Read more about the evolution of poker in our article on poker history, including additional information on Roman gambling and a host of other medieval insanities. Although the Romans did not publicly favor gambling and may view the practice as disgusting or even barbaric, the Romans introduced the modern idea of setting handicaps and betting against the house, the basics of modern casino systems.
Hold’em in the Halls of Hrothgar/Grendel goes to Gamble
Vikings loved to play games. If a berserk somehow plunges through time and arrives at that very moment, I’m sure he could find a lucky hand in God of War 3 with careful maintenance and training, provided he didn’t promise any spoilers at first.
Viking warriors were so feared on the battlefield that their reputation as bloodthirsty blood drinkers has become a modern role model over the centuries. As Nordic society has developed from its raiding roots to a healthy and decidedly modern culture, it proudly retains the deeds of its wild ancestors, who had crossed the great Atlantic Golf to America and further north to Canada long before the Merchant Navy and Elizabethan expansions where evidence of early settlement was removed from those later followers of Herodotus’ intent.
Like the fighting practices of their early reaction culture, the games the Vikings played were primarily physical, more like sporting content or stress and masculinity tests. Not only in Scandinavia, but also in the raided coastal communities and river ports, in which the attackers have settled and integrated into existing communities, sets of hand-carved dice were taken from the ground. Even today in Ireland, a shattering part of the population pool has some Viking DNA, especially in the areas that grew around the estuary and that could easily cross the Vikings’ sleek navigation ships.
Mia was particularly popular, a bluff game that included both chance and skill. Mia means “liar’s cube” and indicates Loki’s participation. Mia, similar to Yahtzee, forced players to roll certain numbers in sets to collect points, with only the casting player seeing the result of their throw. This allowed for an elaborate bluff system where a bluff could be called before the next roll, causing the fraudster to lose a life or the accuser to lose life if he believed it was true and so on until someone was unhappy home goes and another wallet is full.
Tafl, similar to Fidchell, was also played. Unlike chess, where armies face each other in typical lines, Tafl starts with a player surrounded. The aim of the advancing player is to capture the besieged king as our surrounded monarch tries to escape the attacker’s ring.
I leave you with this sage morsel from Mary Beard’s SPQR:
Caesar quoted in Greek two words from the Athenian comic playwright Menander: literally, in a phrase borrowed from gambling, ‘Let the dice be thrown.’ Despite the usual English translation – ‘The die is cast’, which again appears to hint at the irrevocable step being taken – Caesar’s Greek was much more an expression of uncertainty, a sense that everything now was in the lap of the gods. Let’s throw the dice in the air and see where they will fall! Who knows what will happen next?”